Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, at the end of last month. The transcript of her speech, A New Global Economy for a New Generation can be found here: http://www.imf.org/external/np/speeches/2013/012313.htm
In her speech to the World Economic Forum, Christine Lagarde was cautiously optimistic about an economic upturn in 2013. She warns that there are problems ahead but they can be overcome with the right approach.
However, this covered only a short part of the overall speech as she addressed what she called ‘the broader approach’, which requires us to address the issues of ‘individual empowerment’, ‘a reallocation of political and economic power across the world’, ‘seismic shift in demographics’ and ‘increasing vulnerability from resource scarcity and climate change’.
She believes that young people, the ‘new generation’ has a big part to play in helping us deal with these ‘pivotal points’. She thinks that this generation brought up with the new technology and new media have different values which we should espouse.
She believes that this new generation believes in greater openness, in being a citizen of the world transcending boundaries and the old way of thinking. We need to think globally and co-operate more. We know that more young people are using the internet to tell of the terrible things that are happening in their country, as in Syria. We also know that that the old guard hunt these young people down in order to stop the flow of information to the outside world. In the New Statesman recently, an on-line survey was carried out through social media, asking young people in China, what they thought about the likelihood of fundamental change there and they were almost all pessimistic. Young people may be more open in their communication, but is anyone listening?
Her second point was about stronger inclusion and she is right, there are some interesting things happening in India as a result of the mistreatment and casual brutality of women in particular. However, there are still too many women being raped there and in some countries in Africa, routinely raped, day after day. Young women are demanding better access to education in Asia and Africa and some of them, as we know, are paying a terrible price for being courageous enough to demand a basic right. There are some good things happening but there too too many people in the world who are still powerless and without hope.
And finally, better accountability. How long before the rich and powerful accede to that? My heart bleeds at what Bradley Manning, a young man, is having to endure because he believed in better accountability. Information technology as she points out has led to some change but it is not the structural, enduring change that is needed to change the face of our institutions and governments.
Of course the IMF is not without its detractors. It places what many see as restrictive conditions on its loans and it lends to countries with poor human rights records.
So Christine, is it possible that you could possibly encourage the organisation you lead to set an example? Could it possibly espouse more openness, stronger inclusion and better accountability?
Anne Casey is business manager with the3rdimagazine and regular contributor .